Reviewing Alexandra Heminsley’s Leap In

Leap In by Alexandra Heminsley in the story about a woman, some waves, and the will to swim. She believes that a life fully lived has nothing to do with how much money you have or spend, but one full of experiences. And something she really wanted to do was swim. The way Running Like a Girl was all about her journey to loving running, Leap In is about falling in love with swimming, and I couldn’t wait to read it.

As with running, my swimming journey is very different to Alexandra’s. I have been swimming since a child – it was something The Fathership taught me and Sister and The Mothership a long time ago. Then in primary school I kept it up because we were lucky enough to have a pool in the school. Since then I have swum little but haven’t forgotten it. On holiday I swim in the sea, at home I go to the local pool when I feel like it. Truthfully, this isn’t very often but I love swimming, and I always will.

For Alexandra swimming – open water swimming – was what she really wanted to do. When she realises that ten minutes of breaststroke in the pool doesn’t mean she can swim, she enrolls herself in a swimming course. Her end goal is to swim to Ithaca, like the Greek heroes of stories and legends. From reading about her first attempt at getting into a wetsuit (the stuff of actual horrors) to her foray into the sea right before her wedding, to reading about navigating the start line of an open water event (again, the stuff of horrors) was such a pleasure. Alexandra makes it possible for everyone to swim, which of course is the point of Leap In. 

She talks about her fears and dreams and along with her we conquer them. When she swims for the first time in the sea, I was mentally cheering her so loudly. When she talks about her personal life and how swimming healed and helped her throughout, I felt I was standing next to her willing her on with every fibre of my being. And this book is a woman’s very personal journey to loving swimming. Running had give her confidence and the knowledge that her body was powerful. With swimming she was starting again from the beginning – learning how to breath properly, and how to move most economically through the water.

The second part of Leap In is a manual on all things open water swimming. It’s the perfect guides with tips and recommendations from wetsuit shopping, to goggles, to neoprene socks (no idea they even existed).

As with Running Like A Girl I felt Leap In got me. Alexandra got me. And in return I got her. Her confidence has given me confidence and maybe, just maybe I will go to a lido rather than a pool for my next swim.

Leap In by Alexandra Heminsley is published by Hutchinson and out on the 12th of January 2017.


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